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Krokodil, Russian for 'crocodile,' is a street drug used as a cheap substitute for heroin. This photo is courtesy WCPO sister station ABC15 in Phoenix. Courtesy ABC15
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Tri-State health, law enforcement officials take aim at synthetic drug 'Krokodil'

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DAYTON, Ohio -- Health and law enforcement across the Tri-State are taking aim at a dangerous new drug that eats away at your skin and can kill you.

The homemade opiate “Krokodil” is starting to appear more readily in Ohio and Kentucky.

The drug was starting to appear in Columbus, but now there are reports of it showing up in Dayton and western Kentucky.

According to WHIO-TV, a Dayton-based task force created to address the proliferation of bath salts is taking the fight to Krokodil, as well.

The Greater Dayton Area Hospitals Association Synthetic Drug Task Force met Wednesday morning to talk about the drug.

Krokodil is a homemade type of opiate that has devastated lives in Russia and other countries before coming to the United States.

Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said the task force is made up of emergency room doctors, forensic nurses, undercover officers, Miami Valley Crime Lab personnel and others.

The team will share knowledge about the drug and of usage trends they encounter in the community.

"Bringing in ER doctors, forensic nurses ... they see patients who are experiencing overdose symptoms," Kelly said. "They're not going to be arrested. It's not a crime. But they will tell them information that they won't tell law enforcement."

Health officials said Krokodil can eat away at a user’s skin over time and cause other serious health problems. It’s also an extremely toxic and addictive form of morphine. Krokodil is produced in a method similar to methamphetamine.

It’s called Krokodil because it’s a cheap substitute for heroin and causes sores, tissue damage and a rough scale-like appearance on the skin.

Kelly said Krokodil remains on the horizon as to whether it will become a problem in Ohio, but there have been reports from a doctor of it being in at least one Miami Valley Community.

"Yellow Springs ... it's just south of Springfield and north of Dayton. He's sees a wide population of people in his practice," Kelly said.

Officials said Krokodil may have a harder time becoming widespread in the U.S. because one of its main ingredients – codeine – is a controlled substance.

Cindy Jennings, a forensic nurse at Miami Valley Hospital, said, "This is an extremely toxic and very addictive type of morphine. It's artificially made with petroleum products. They can use kerosene. They can use gasoline. It's not like you can clear out all those products when you make this particular substance."

While Krokodil is something the task force is analyzing, the No. 1 problem facing the community is still heroin.

Kelly said the heroin problem is at "epidemic levels" in local communities.

"What we're discovering is that the heroin today is very strong," he said. "It is not being cut. Which means that the heroin is coming directly into our communities and we're going to see more overdoses and deaths."

The task force plans to host a symposium next year on synthetic drugs.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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